To the People

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Hardest Partying Legislature Ever

That would be the Peruvian Congress, where lawmakers use cocaine -- well, the raw ingredient for cocaine -- right at their desks. As Reuters explains:

LIMA (Reuters) - Lawmakers defiantly chewed coca in Peru's Congress on Thursday while criticizing a U.N. recommendation to criminalize traditional uses of the plant.

The coca leaf, the raw ingredient of cocaine, is used by millions of people to stave off hunger and fight altitude sickness. It is also used in teas, in cooking and by fortune tellers.

"The coca leaf has existed for thousands and thousands of years. It's part of our agriculture, our food and our medicine. It's sacred," Congresswoman Hilaria Supa told Reuters before the start of Thursday's session.

"The United Nations doesn't know our culture. It doesn't understand our values," she said.

Supa and Congresswoman Maria Sumire offered coca to their colleagues on the Congress floor from small hats. Dozens of politicians took handfuls and chewed the leaf during a raucous session with boos and hisses.

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